BY: Maria Valencia
On Monday, wildfires persisted throughout Greece, with the islands of Corfu and Rhodes—both well-known tourist destinations—being the hardest hit.
Fires have been raging in Rhodes since Wednesday. 19.000 people had to leave their homes and tourist lodgings over the weekend when a fire spread to resorts on the southeast coast of the island.
British vacationers had to evacuate hotels destroyed by the wildfires, and many spent the night in tents in schools, sports facilities, and the island’s airport.
Minister for the Foreign Office Andrew Mitchell stated that his “best estimate” of the current number of British visitors to Rhodes was “between 7,000 and 10,000.”
Where are the wildfires on Corfu?
Where are the wildfires on Rhodes?
The two biggest wildfires are located near the centrally located municipalities of Eleousa and Laerma.
Is it safe to travel to Rhodes?
Despite the fires, the UK government is not recommending visitors to avoid visiting Rhodes.
“It’s important to remember that only 10 percent of the island is affected by these fires. And therefore it is the tourist companies and the holiday experts who are best placed to give guidance on whether or not a family or individuals’ holidays are going to be ruined by these events” said Mr Mitchell.
“What we’re telling people to do is to keep in touch with their tourist company, and that is the right advice.”
“We are actively monitoring the fires in Rhodes and are in close contact with local authorities.” Said a spokesperson for the Foreign Office.
“The FCDO has deployed a rapid deployment team of five FCDO staff and four British Red Cross responders to Rhodes to support British nationals whose safety is our top priority. They will be based at Rhodes international airport to assist with travel documents and liaise with Greek authorities and travel operators on the ground.
“British nationals in Rhodes should contact their travel operator in the first instance for any queries regarding the rescheduling of flights and continue to check our updated travel advice for information.”
Summertime in Greece is often plagued by wildfires, but southern Europe is now experiencing increasingly intense heatwaves due to climate change.
Temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius (104F) were recorded in many areas of the country last week, and this trend is expected to continue in the coming days.
Jet2 Holidays postponed its trips to the following Sunday, while Tui suspended its flights to Rhodes until Tuesday.
EasyJet’s spokeswoman said the airline was doing “all it can” to assist passengers on Rhodes, and urged anyone who was scheduled to arrive on or depart from the island by this Saturday, to reschedule their trip without charge.